MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An "America's Got Talent" contestant scrutinized for claims about being injured in Afghanistan made a mistake when he gave the show a photograph of another soldier and passed it off as himself, the man's fiancee said Thursday.
The NBC series this week and WFAA-TV of Dallas last month used the picture with segments on Timothy Michael Poe, a former Minnesota National Guard member who said he was injured in a grenade attack in Afghanistan in 2009. The Guard says military records don't substantiate his claims.
The caption of the original picture on the official military website Defense.gov shows Staff Sgt. Norman Bone serving in Afghanistan in 2006.
Poe has declined multiple requests for comment from The Associated Press this week. But his fiancee, Carrie Morris, said Thursday that Poe accidentally submitted the photo to NBC and the station because he was hurrying and didn't take the time to look at which picture he was sending. She said he probably thought it was the right picture when he sent it to "America's Got Talent" because he already had sent it to WFAA.
Morris said she didn't know where Poe got the picture of Bone but that "he downloads military stuff all the time" and that other people send them pictures as well.
"But I know that it was a mistake on his part. It was an accident. It was a complete accident," Morris said.
Bone declined to comment to The Associated Press when reached on his cellphone Thursday, saying he wanted to consult with legal counsel because he's still on active duty.
NBC referred a call for comment to the show's producer, FremantleMedia North America. In a statement emailed to AP, FreMantle Media spokesman Neil Schubert apologized to Bone for the photo's misuse. He said it has been removed and won't be used again.
"It was supplied to us by Tim and used on the show in good faith," Schubert said.
WFAA assistant news director Chris Berg also confirmed Poe sent them the picture.
"Today they told our reporter they made a mistake and sent the wrong picture," Berg said by email. "Fiancee told us 'Tim forgets things.'"
Minnesota National Guard members spent Tuesday commenting on articles about Poe on the WFAA TV website and trying to alert media of their angry disagreement with Poe's claims.
One guard member posted the following on a WFAA TV story mentioning Poe, "My blood is boiling sooo bad right now.... if ANYONE on here watches 'Americas Got Talent and heard the (sob story of the contestant Timothy Poe from texas) and how he was hit by a grenade in Afghanistan breaking his back and causing a brain injury which resulted in a 'stutter'...... It's ALL A LIE! The ONLY part that was true was that he DID deploy with our unit..the 114th Transportation Compan...y out of Duluth/Chisholm, MN."